‘Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle’ Premieres Tonight on PBS

– by Gig Patta

SuperheroNeverending copy Comic book fans will have a great treat tonight.

PBS will air a three-hour block tonight dedicated to the program “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.”

The film is by the Emmy Award-winning producer/director Michael Kantor (“Broadway: The American Musical”).

It features interviews from Stan Lee, Adam West, Lynda Carter, Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb, Michael Chabon, Jules Feiffer, Joe Simon and Jerry Robinson.

The program will be hosted and narrated by Liev Schreiber.

The documentary film will explore the dawn of the comic book genre and the evolution of the characters from the past 75 years with their ongoing lasting cultural impact.

It was originally going to premiere in three parts over three weeks. However, PBS will dedicate tonight starting at 8 p.m. to the documentary.

PART ONE, 8 PM: “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” (1938-1958)

During the Depression, the popularity of dozens of superhero characters opens the door for a new generation of artists and writers. World War II creates a patriotic fervor for star-spangled adventurers to represent the American spirit at war and on the home front, but in the 1950s, superheroes are caught in the fire of government scrutiny and regulation. When the thrilling “Adventures of Superman” is broadcast on the new medium of television, America’s first and greatest superhero leads the entire comic book industry to renewed strength.

PART TWO, 9 PM: “Great Power, Great Responsibility” (1959-1977)

In the 1960s, a new breed of superhero emerges in the pages of Marvel Comics, inspired by the age of atomic energy and space travel and, in turn, inspiring the pop culture and pop artists of the time. Spider-Man, the Hulk and others are the first to have “problems” with which an adult audience can identify, and contemporary social issues make their way into comic books. Black powerhouses such as the Black Panther and Luke Cage appear on the scene, and the pages of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” explode with relevant storylines as comic books are forced to confront the reality of an increasingly complex world.

PART THREE, 10 PM “A Hero Can Be Anyone” (1978-Present)

Modern enthusiasm for superheroes has been embraced in all forms of media and by all demographics, beginning with the historic Superman movie featuring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In 1986, Batman is overhauled as The Dark Knight to reflect the nocturnal underside of his character, and Watchmen bring new sophistication to comic book narratives, illuminating a violent and politicized world. In the burgeoning new millennium, superheroes have taken over popular culture with feature films, television shows and video games complementing a new generation of web-based comics that bring superhero adventures to every corner of the world.

In addition, PBS Distribution will make the documentary available on DVD and Blu-ray today. The DVD will be available for $24.99 and the Blu-ray for $29.99. They will include exclusive extra features.

So don’t forget to tune tonight or have your DVR set on record beginning at 8 p.m. on PBS.

TV Adam West, Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb, Liev Schreiber, Lynda Carter, Michael Kantor, Stan Lee, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle